The Baltimore Orioles once were among baseball's most respected and stable franchises.
But the team that played in four World Series in the late '60s and early '70s, which gave its fans Frank and Brooks Robinson, Boog Powell, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray, and Cal Ripken Jr., which built Camden Yards and revolutionized baseball in the '90s, has fallen on desperate times.
The Orioles, amazingly, haven't had a winning season since 1997.
So, out with the old; in with the new. The Birds sacked over-the-hill starters Adam Eaton and Mark Hendrickson, brought up highly touted minor-league outfielder Nolan Reimold, and on Friday capped an instant rebuilding spurt by bringing up former No. 1 draft pick Matt Wieters to catch.
The starting rotation now includes rookies Brad Bergesen (2-2), Jason Berken (1-1) and David Hernandez (1-0) - all of whom earned wins in their major-league debuts.
Reimold, who made his debut May 14, has five homers, 16 hits and 11 RBIs in 60 at-bats.
Best of all, the veterans are on board with it.
"Rebuilding is not only bringing a young guy to the big leagues," said third baseman Melvin Mora. "It's bringing a guy who has an idea what the big leagues are about, what winning is about.
"All the players they're bringing up have an idea what they're doing, especially the pitchers, and now we have a guy, Wieters, who knows what to do behind the plate."
Credit team president Andy McPhail, who refused to panic and bring the young guys up before they were ready.
Youth movement, Part II
The Oakland A's said righthander Vin Mazzaro will make his major-league debut tomorrow night against the Chicago White Sox. The 22-year-old Mazzaro, a third-round pick in the 2005 draft, will join fellow rookies Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, and former Phillies prospect Josh Outman in the rotation. (Outman went to Oakland in the deal that brought Joe Blanton to Philadelphia last summer.)
The costs keep rising
New York Assemblyman Richard Brodsky claims that nearly $4 billion in financing and tax breaks over 30 years were used to build the new Yankee Stadium.
Pressed to provide data, team officials said it would cost taxpayers more than $5 million to produce internal records sought by lawmakers.
Yankees' CEO Lonn Trost, in Albany for hearings into public financing of the stadium yesterday, said Brodsky was "grandstanding."
Elected officials in the world's media capital "grandstanding?" We're totally shocked.
Melky Cabrera was back in the Yankees' starting lineup after missing four games with a bruised right shoulder. . . . Cleveland put reliever Rafael Betancourt on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right groin. . . . The White Sox pushed Bartolo Colon back a day in the rotation and started righthander Gavin Floyd against Oakland last night. . . . Yankees lefthander Andy Pettitte says he will make his scheduled start against Texas tomorrow after leaving a game Friday with a stiff back. . . . Outfielder Grady Sizemore could need arthroscopic surgery if two more weeks of rest don't calm his inflamed left elbow, Indians trainer Lonnie Soloff said.